Inanda man found guilty of kidnapping, murdering his girlfriend’s 16-month-old son
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DURBAN - AN INANDA man who killed his girlfriend’s toddler and dumped his body in neighbouring Phoenix is expected to be sentenced in the Durban High Court on Tuesday.
Tembilane Mtengwane, also known as Eric, was found guilty of kidnapping and killing 16-month-old Sbonga Nduduzi Nlanji in April 2019.
The court heard on Monday that Mtengwane and Naledi Nlanji were in a relationship. Nlanji had told Mtengwane that Sbonga was his son.
Nlanji was also dating Sbonga’s biological father Mxolisi Nodangala. They had three children together.
When Nlanji decided to end the relationship, Mtengwane became angry. The court heard Mtengwane was seen taking Sbonga from the Inanda home. When Nlanji came home her other children told her Sbonga was with Mtengwane.
Nlanji then searched for the boy but to no avail. The following day when Mtengwane’s mother called him he gave the family detailed directions over the phone to where he had dumped the body.
Phoenix police were notified and together with the family found the body in Trenance Manor, Phoenix. The cause of death was blunt force injury to the chest. Mtengwane then fled to his home in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape. Phoenix police tracked him down and arrested him in April 2019.
Detective Captain Kippie Pillay had opposed bail and Mtengwane was awaiting trial at the Department of Correctional Services Westville. Pillay said that Mtengwane had made several confession statements but then denied that he did when he testified during his trial. The matter was postponed several times because Mtengwane was uncertain if he should plead guilty or not.
Mtengwane’s mother also gave evidence before the court that her son confessed to killing Sbonga when she visited him in Westville Prison.
Judge Ntuthu Mlaba commended one of the children, who cannot be named, for being a key witness. The child had told the court that Sbonga was asleep next to him when Mtengwane had come into the room. The child switched on the light and recognised Mtengwane from previous visits to the house. The child identified Mtengwane in court as the person whom he saw taking Sbonga.
Judge Mlaba said the witnesses in the case were reliable and honest. Mtengwane gave the impression that “you can catch me if you can” when he took the stand in court, the judge added.
The judge said the State had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mtengwane was guilty of murder and kidnapping. Sentencing is expected on Tuesday.
Outside court, Mtengwane’s mother, who declined to be named, said she was very disappointed in her son’s actions and found it difficult to accept. Nodangala said he could not believe his son was dead. He was happy justice had been served on Mtengwane. He was unaware that his girlfriend was unfaithful to him.